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Philmont alternatives ?

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Our CC says that Tres Ritos, in addition to serving as base camp for backpacking treks into the Pecos Wilderness, has a regular summer camp there as well. That might be an interesting option for the whole troop, younger and older scouts. Does anyone have any personal experience there? Thanks!

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I've not heard of the camp, but it sounds like the same kind of camp as the Spanish Peaks camp and Camp Isabel where the Troops do their own cooking. That is the main difference from Camp Frank Rand which also uses the Pecos Wilderness for week long High Adventure treks. Our Troop has done Frank Rand and rated it pretty good overall.

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Back in the good old days, our troop used to go to Philmont every other year. That fizzled as treks became harder to come by. Our last visit was in 1995.


There is a whole world outside Philmont for you to explore. There is a long list of council sponsored high adventure programs, many of which have been mentioned in previous posts.


There is also the option of doing a troop sponsored program, where your PLC makes the plan.


It requires much more time and effort in planning, but is also far less expensive. I also think the lessons learned can be much greater. The options become almost limitless.


For backpacking, in the last couple summers we've done Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Adirondack Mountains in New York, Appalachian/Long Trail in Vermont, and the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan. There are dozens of other places to go.


Some other high adventure programs we've done can be seen at...




Good luck to you and your troop.



Cliff Golden

Scoutmaster Troop 33

DeKalb, Illinois

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I'm someplace where I can write without having the truncating server hit me.


The Western Los Angeles Area Council (long ago the San Fernando Valley Council) runs its major LT camp facility in the low Sierra Nevada, near Kernville and Johnsondale, California. It's called Camp Whitsett.


As stated earlier in the thread, the Council sponsors the Silver Knapsack Trail. It runs close to 50 miles in length, and takes a week to do. It's worth looking into.


Another option, not run by BSA, but rather by the Pacific Crest Trail Association, is the John Muir Trail. Here's a URL for it:



The penultimate source on this trail is Starr's Guide, written in the 30s by Walter Starr, and updated since:



Have fun wherever you go!




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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Folks


I caught onto this thread in an odd moment, but would like to offer my 2 cents. I know that Philmont is considered to the be the ultimate Scout experience, but I really think that it is an easy answer for a Troop that wants to do something that is memorable, that they could easily do themselves for less money, have a better adventure, and give the kids a better learning experience on planning and going on a recreational activity that they themselves create for themselves.


Sure Philmont is a great place to go, but it is in realty a Disneyland for Scouts! It is a pre-programed set up that with a bit of planning and research a Troop could on their own make the Scouts themselves plan and go on an adventure of their own for less cost and greater fun.


Alright, I am the ultimate do-it-yourself type, but when you can offer the training, the practice, and the wherewithall to let them plan their own real multistate trip, you will have done more for them than having given them a pre-planned, canned trip to what amounts to a Disneyland with boots.


There are hundreds of Wilderness Areas in the US with fantastic opportunities from backpacking to sea kayaking to mountaineering that Scouts can do for THEMSELVES without submitting to the "pay someone else to do it for you" syndrome.


My Troop has done some rather fantastic things and been in Boy's Life for it (Oct 2002 Orizaba (?)) and have done it all on our own without paying some other outfit to plan for us to go.


OK, go to Philmont if you like, as it is really a great place for young Scouts and is in the culture, but if you would like more, it only takes some research, some teaching and an adventurous mind to provide the Scouts with real 'make it themselves without buying a package trip' experience. Everyone can just buy a trip from a travel agent...but the Scouts originally were the real do-it-yourself-while-learning group. Be tradional!


Hey, if you hav'nt done it before, I will be very glad to help you set up your own great trip just for the fun. Email me back!



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I must echo John's sentiments.


I do love Philmont, I really do...


...but, at Philmont you choose your itinerary from a book, they do all the logistical planning; routing, water sources, menu planning, equipment, etc., etc. for you.


It is a canned program.


It's a little like painting by number. You do their predetermined design and don't dare go outside the lines.


For a troop that has very little experience and wants something safe, maybe it's a good way to go. Philmont provides a great safety net.


If you want to be more adventurous, think outside the box, learn to plan and develop your own ideas and high adventure programs, then you should do your own program as John suggests.


The boys learn much more, and at a significantly lower price. Most of the high adventures my troop has done have been self-planned, using experts here and there as needed.


BTW John, we had a great time while visiting you this summer. The boys loved it! Thanks for all your help and support.



Cliff Golden

Scoutmaster Troop 33

DeKalb, Illinois

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Still a lot of the posts here involve going to a Scout Camp of one sort or another.

So here are a few alternatives that I have done with my Scouts, and one that I am planning on.


All these involve significantly more work than collecting money, making a reservation and showing up at a Scout Camp. However, when you drag your youth leaders through this, they are left with knowledge on trips that they can personally run for themselves in later life. (the old Chineese proverb about teaching a man to fish rather than giving a fish...). These trips are also far more rewarding, less crowded, and provide more skills learned by doing. Some of my Scouts have gone on to plan surprising personal trips, such as climbing Devil's Tower, or rafting the Clark's Fork.


Backpack any of the Rocky Mt Wilderness areas. My favorites are 1. Wiminuche in CO where you take the Narrow Guage Train at Durango to Elk Park. We went to Chicago Basin and out and rode the train back. 2. Rawah Wilderness N, CO (not too crowded and lots of fishing), 3. Any other Wilderness area (I want to go to the Bighorns in WY which are nearly deserted, though Bob Marshall has the "Chineese Wall" and there are the Wind Rivers. Too many areas, too little tiime.


Peak Bagging: A popular and very easy logistical trip is to pick 1-2 mountains (The Colorado 14ers and 13ers are easy for us), and guidebooks are found at Amazon.com. These trips generally involve driving to the campsites nearly always found at the base of the mountains, camping, getting up way early and hiking the peak (only one 14er, Crestone Needle has any real climbing) to summit just before noon then racing the thunderstorms back to camp. The kids love these. If you are winter nuts - they are good for ski mountaineering with appropriate knowledge of avalanche ssafety. We have done Long's Peak, Mt. Bierstadt, Quandry Peak, Gray's and Torries, Crestone Needle, among others, and done several 13ers as well. (Bierstadt and Quandry lend themselves to ski touring.)


We cheat on river trips as we have our own boat and access to lots of others, so we run several white water raft trips per summer as well. As private boaters, we have access to fantastic rivers. The kids earn Swimming, Canoeing (on a lake) Whitewater, etc. They are also taught how to read the water, boatmanship and how to run the boats themselves, something that they really like. We've done the Snake, Green, Upper Colorado, North Platte, Westwater, etc. I am thinking of taking them down the Grand Canyon from Diamond Creek down to Lake Meade as the permits are easier to get.


For the older kids we can do caving: We got to know and co-opt local NSS cavers and now have become one myself. We have a few easy caves (the so called sacrifice caves) that are recommended that we take them on. We also arranged a last Spring Break to do some of the Wild Caves in Carlsbad NP. As the older guys go on these, it is something for the younger ones to look to do. Find yourself a caver!


Rock Climbing is always a good trip. However, location is a problem. WY is blessed so we do this a lot. However, other councils often have a designated climbing person who can often be conned to hosting your Troop for a few days. As I work in OK during the winters (sigh) I work with an excellent couple of guys in the Last Frontier Council where we have hosted lots of Troops.


Cliff Golden brought his guys to WY last summer for a do-it-yourself road trip that took them backpacking, climbing, touring Mesa Verde and other neat adventures. See his post above!!! His Scouts were 'jazzed' when they arrived in COLD WY where we shamefacedly had them to climb with us in our local gym.


I would be glad to help any interested in the Rockies area with ideas on what to do, where to go, and how to go about it. The thing to do is to try it small then try it big! Have Conficence! Its addictive in a very healthy way, as well as cheaper!


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Sorry your unit didn't win the Philmont lottery. I had 1 crew go with the council contigent in July 2003.


We had 2 crews go to the Northern Tier in Bisset Manitoba in August 2004. We had a blast. The float plane flight to and from Scout lake was memorable. This is one place to consider.


My Troop is going to Whittset this summer, just three days after we return from National Jamboree. Western LA Council also has another great camp called Emerald Bay on Catalina Island.



Here is the link to Los Angeles Area Council High Adventure Team website with information on Log Cabin Wilderness.





Mario Montano

SM Troop438



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  • 3 months later...

Log Cabin Wilderness Camp has the "Gateway Program" which lets your troop customize a week long backpacking trip to their needs or you can choose from 14 pre-planned treks. They also have a program called Mountain Man which is a more introductory course in wilderness and backpacking skills. It consists of low and high COPE, Rock Climbing (on real rock faces0, a couple nights of camping/backpacking, choice of 3 peaks to climb, and possibly ice/snow training (conditions permitting).


For more information check out their site at: http://www.logcabincamp.org


I mean, they are located in Yosemite, what more could you ask for?


just remember, location, location, location!!!


I think they also offer Venture Programs and will help you in achieving the Ranger Award.


Also I hear they are always looking for staff so check out the site.

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Just got your post, and am still somewhat stunned that more groups don't go off on their own. Still some of these camps do offer some group participation in setting up their own backpacks and trips. I did notice that the Log Cabin Camp did actually offer Peak Bagging which was one of my suggestions.


I would like to suggest a similar alternative that might be of interest. See http://www.hpoiadventure.com/scoutprograms.html

which has a few programs that offer groups technical skills and will help the group to later finish their trip with a neat trip on their own.


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This is an interesting thread, because it gets into the issue of how well Scouts have really learned Scouts skills and their real capacity for planning and leadership.


I suspect it's quite common for adults to do much of the planning on fifty milers and such. Scouts may wind up supporting and working with adults, but that's quite different, VERY different, than Scouts doing all the research and planning themselves. I suspect that's relatively rare.


From what I see, adults often push Scouts to do ambitious trips which the Scouts really can't plan and organize themselves. Adults will research routes, guidebooks and such, or rely on canned programs such as those offered by Philmont.


I'm guilty of this myself, although I aim to limit myself and provide the Scouts with opportunities to keep expanding their skills and experience.


I visited a Troop meeting where Scouts were planning their 50 miler for the summer. My adult leader brother had picked out a trip and supplied maps and trail guides. The Scouts were expected to plan their daily routes and the mileage they would backpack and canoe. I suspect this kind of assistance is pretty common, but until Scouts can do the whole job, they are still dependent on adults to be able to do these kinds of trips.


Who wants to tell me that their PLC reseraches and decides on routes, transporatation, food, funding, equipment, routefinding and such by themselves? I'll be impressed.


By contrast, there are Scouts who learn those skills, and rather quickly outstrip their adult leaders, becoming highly skilled climbers capable of doing and going just about anyplace. Jim Whittaker, the first American to climb Mt Everest was one such Scout, as was Fred Beckey who pioneered many climbing routes in Washington's Cascade Mountains and wrote a number of widely used climbing guides.



Seattle Pioneer

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